A lab of words, paintings

Taken from a Special Edition of "The Gleaner"
printed March 27, 1988
permissive use granted by Editor
newspaper provided by Vonette Shelton-Curtis

Malcolm, Maralea Arnett enjoy creative pursuits

By Judy Jenkins
of The Gleaner staff

Malcolm Arnett and his sister, Maralea, don't often journey away from the small white house they share near Dixie, but their knowledge and works - like the wind-carried seeds of bright flowers - have traveled far and wide.

His distinctive paintings of country towns, rural churches, old dinner bells, steam whistles, landscapes and other sight that have caught his artist's eye have been featured in one-man shows in big-city libraries and galleries and in small town settings.

His hand-printed Christmas cards, awaited each Christmas by friends across the country, were the inspiration for his 80-page "Landmarks - Forty Prints from Forty Years of Printmaking." That booklet includes a number of the pictorial subjects that made the cards so special, as well as brief essays on the people, places or things that make up the scenes.

Ms. Arnett's history of Henderson County, aptly entitled "Annals and Scandals," has proven as popular to the general public as to historians and genealogy buffs, and copies of it have winged far from Northwestern Kentucky.

Both he and she are avid growers of fruit trees, and their dedication to producing hardier and more productive trees has resulted in articles for the international Pomona magazine, a quarterly publication of the North American Fruit Explorers. That organization has some 3,500 members representing every state as well as a number of foreign countries.

In 1981, the Arnetts were given the honor of editing one of the Pomona editions.

Besides receiving frequent inquiries from fruit growers and families attempting to track down the names of Henderson County ancestors, they hear from other avid mineral rock collectors.

Arnett happens to have more than 1,000 rock specimens, many of them glinting in the light that comes through the windows of the combination studio-office in which brother and sister work at their separate interests or toil together on a mutual project.

The studio, attached to their home, is a necessity. Otherwise, the house would be full of canvases and files and items such as a hanging grouping og gourds and family momentoes like an iron ladle that their grandpa Virgil Moody used for melting lead to pour into molds and form bullets.

Like his grandchildren, Moody was very much an individual. The Civil War veteran, in the last years of his life, regaled family members with the story of how he happened to join the Union army instead of the Confederate.

It seems he had a cousin who had gone A.W.O.L. from the Confederate Army, and officers - mistaking Moody for the cousin - came to his Webster County home and dragged him, measles and all, from his sickbed.

Fortunately, he finally managed to convince them of his identity, but by that time he had become a firm Union supporter and vowed that if he ever got over the measles, he was joining Grant's army.

That's just waht he did, and the rifle and sword he used were treasured by Maralea and Malcolm Arnett's parents, Charles and Fredonia Arnett. Unfortunately, the residence in which the family had lived since 1906, burned in 1935 and those relics were lost.

Charles and Fredonia Arnett had moved to that two-story house on the present Kentucky 145 when Malcolm was only a year old. They'd come from Cairo, where they'd lived near a creek and lost Malcolm's older sister, Ruth, to diptheria. Considering that locale unhealthy, they chose, instead, to settle on the outskirts of Dixie.

It is there that Maralea Arnett entered the world five years later.

Following the 1935 fire, the family built hte home the brother and sister still occupy, and where they continue to oversee the raising of hogs and farming of 230 acres.

They both have been away for spells - he completed a four-year course at the Kansas City Art Institute in three years - and she, having collected degrees from three different institutions, spent four years doing missionary work in Eastern Kentucky.

It was, in fact, at the Oneida Institute, a Baptist boarding school, that she had some of the most enriching experiences of her life. In addition to other duties, she taught English, and, in her own unassuming way, helped shape some young lives.

A third grader who was there at the time, a bright youngster who could recite all the states and all their capitals in 45 seconds, today is president of the institute. His name? Barley Moore.

For those who long had known the Arnett family, Ms. Arnett's missionary work came as no surprise. Her father was known in the community as a fellow who looked out for orphans and widows and anyone else who was having a difficult time. To them went many a sack of produce from the family garden.

Fredonia Arnett, too, was civic minded, serving as first president of the church's missionary society, helping start a PTA at Dixie and one year taking the school census.

Ms. Arnett, who was about six at the time, vividly recalls going with her mother from house to house fro that census. In a way, it made her school years much happier. There was this female bully, it seems, who was five years older and much, much bigger.

On the day Ms. Arnett and her mother went to the bully's house, Ms. Arnett learned that the girl wasn't 10, as she claimed to be, but actually was 11. Thereafter, any time the roughneck threatened to tickle her, which Ms. Arnett hated, she'd warn, "You tickle me and I'll tell how old you are."

The bully relented and her secret was kept.

Ms. Arnett, now 76, was her brother, 83, have done considerable traveling, but it's doubtful if any of their subsequent trips thrilled her as much as the excursion she undertook near the end of her senior year of high school.

The family came to Henderson for her to buy shoes in the "big city."

"We got them at Simons," she relates, "and they cost $7.50." Her father thought that was pretty expensive, but it's obvious from the smile the memory brings to her face that those shows were worth every cent.

transcribed by Tina Hall 8-12-2002

NOTE: Maralea Arnett died in 1997

Malcolm Arnett and sister Maralea Arnett
click on photo to view larger photo

Gleaner Photo by Mike Lawrence


A look in the SSDI on Ancestry.com gave me a hit on both of them:

Malcolm was born May 20th, 1905 and passed away on May 6th, 1992,

Maralea was born April 25th, 1911 and passed away on Sept. 23rd, 1997,


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